Have your say on Hertfordshire school transport cuts

PARENTS and teachers are being asked to think of new ways to get children to school, as Hertfordshire County Council looks to reduce its annual school transport bill.

With the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review announcement tomorrow (Wednesday), the county council has set out a list of proposals aimed at cutting its �25m annual bill for free and subsidised travel for statutory age pupils.

The council is proposing a series of measures to be in place by September 2012.

These include cutting free home to school transport for all children except those with statutory entitlement; discontinuing existing concessions for travel to faith schools and all other discretionary transport, and retaining the SaverCard concessionary scheme, but introducing an annual minimum charge of �20 per year for new applicants.

An online public consultation on the proposals started yesterday (Monday), and parents, teaching staff and pupils are being encouraged to give their views to the council.

Councillor Richard Thake, executive member for education and skills, said: “For many years, your county council has gone above and beyond its legal duty by providing transport on a discretionary basis, to many pupils.

“In the current financial situation, we simply cannot afford to maintain this approach. This consultation is also the opportunity for us to encourage local communities and schools to design their own self-financing local travel solutions for their pupils.”

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Cllr Stuart Pile, executive member for highways and transport, said: “Hertfordshire schools and parents are already making an impressive commitment to sustainable school travel, with 52 per cent walking or cycling to school regularly and school travel plans in place in 90 per cent of schools.

“I anticipate that the proposals in our consultation will encourage schools and parents to use their local knowledge to create their own school-run solutions.”

The public consultation closes on January 26, 2011. A final decision will then be made by the county council’s cabinet in March